Monday, January 03, 2011

Just the Open-Mouthed Angels

Diamond Light
Photo by Robin Gale Odam, Sacramento

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Angels in large groups are seen
Flying away from cities.
We look underneath our beds and find
Sparks of light smoldering, glints off
Silver and gold baubles left there
So they may be understood as gifts
To others, as a kind of Braille to help
Describe wonder and its patterns
Through our nervous system like
Crying children afraid to be left
This alone. We watch the angels
Depart. There is little we can do.

The glaciers have receded. So much
More land has been revealed than
We are able to understand. We are
Offered places to live, carved from stone
By huge sheets of ice. Lakes are everywhere.

There is really no place to go when
We finally realize the extent of the
Angel exodus. We look for wings, hope
We may join them, seek other ways
To understand everything that has happened.
Do you remember who I am?
Do you remember that I love you?


—D.R. Wagner

We could not see where
The end of the land came.
The French told us we must
Leave the water and walk
For a distance of many leagues
Because of a great waterfall
That would not allow us passage upstream.

These woods were old,
Filled with highways
And worn places, used by men.

The night we heard the
Waterfall was memorable. It
Seemed a constant wind that
Did not move the trees at all.
All sound. And then
The place itself. The voice of water
Articulate and incessant
Filling all of consciousness
For enormous moments.
There could not be such a place,
Yet there it was.

Day and night forever
Through such time as man
Cannot but fancy.
All the choirs of the angels
Singing together precisely,
In this manner, so it seemed.

The greens, the whiteness,
The bows of colored light
By day and pale ghosts of
Them in the moonlight.

This must be what prayer
Was like in power and in voice.
All our lives we bathed our
Memories in this gift.

We joined it to our children,
Drove it through our dreams,
Hovering near its mists as long
As soul would cling to flesh
And then we joined this voice;
The rapids and the rills,
The clicking of the rocks,
The huge sighing of the
Place as it continues
Its descriptions with water.

I hear you hearing this.
All of us hear you hearing this.
It is a rushing through the seasons,
A mouth unlike any other.
We look into your eyes. You look into time itself,
The way all life understands it,

Full and incomplete,
Always moving. Time is water.
Time is the huge falling
That we saw here, surely
A fair description.


(Angels Playing Cards)
—D.R. Wagner

There is too much light
In the room for anything irreconcilable
To happen. It will be recorded
Inside the caves, on the battlefields,

Across the purple moors and darker prairies.
The cards are flipped down upon
The table, voiceless like generations
Forced to speak to each other
Through the dark
Doors of time.

For each card is unforgiven, unforeseen
With traces in its skin of the stillness
Before birth, The Ascent of Mount Carmel,
The Olympian crucifix with its living
Christus smelling like wars and collapse
Through fire of great empires.
There is no betting at all. All blows away,
Just the open-mouthed angels constantly
Surprised at how the cards fall
As if by chance.


—D.R. Wagner

Metal fires.
The anguish of parting
As when the hand
Leaves the body.
A thin blade is inserted:
          The heart that does
          not speak, but is
          rather, pierced
          and weeps
At all that is not of itself
And is not other.

There were strings of tiny
Lights around the body.
I do not wonder at these
Things. I speak the name
Of the angel. It opens
My throat to sing. Just
Below the chin.


The Hidden Treasure
from Parables by
N.C. Wyeth

—D.R. Wagner

I’m not putting this anywhere.
I don’t even know how it got here.
I was walking near dawn, the light
Became fascinating and I bent to look

Deeper into the draw near the edge of camp.
There they were welling up on a column,
Angels, two or three. The light was so bright
It was hard to tell. And the music. I fell
To my knees. Wondering if I was praying
Or was merely alarmed. At any rate, I was
Taken, completely. I was not anywhere.

I have always lived in fear. That you would
Not love me, that I would never measure up
That what I believed in was without value
In this world. I walked tight to the ground,
Not wanting to imagine anything for fear
Of manifesting it to myself or worse to the world.

I took this path around the camp to the water
Supply so I would not be seen and now these
Angels, a shaft of them whirling before me.
Everyone has seen the light leap before me.
There was no longer any hiding. I shall learn

To speak aloud, to express wonder to all,
To call out the name of the lord to the darkness,
To be lead by this pillar all the days of my life.
I wish to speak to you. Do not deny me.
I am the one who comes to you totally without agenda.


Thanks to D.R. and Robin Gale for today's musings about the angels, plus our LittleNip from Pat Pashby. The new year is revving back up again, especially Sacramento Poetry Center, which has three events of note this week. You might want to "swing by" (I love that expression—insert monkey noises here) SPC tonight for a reading by the Writers' Circle featuring JoAnn Anglin, Diane Lovegrove Bader, Melen Lunn, Patricia Nichol, Jennifer O’ Neill Pickering, Sarah Stricker and Patricia Tollefson. Born from a poetry-writing class entitled "Straw Into Gold," taught by Julia Connor at the Hart Senior Center during the fall of 2009, the group meets weekly at SPC for mutual stimulation and critique. The group continues to work with Julia Connor, who consults once monthly by leading the group in critiques of their prose and poetry. This is their first public reading as a group, and also their first anthology. That's at 25th & R Sts., Sac., 7:30pm.

Also this week is SPC's Poetry at the Library, presenting novelists T.A. (Tom) Roberts and Renée Thompson. That's at the Central Library, 828 I St., Sac., 6pm. Host: Bob Stanley. See the B-board for bios.

Then on Sat. (1/8) from 5-9pm, see the 2nd annual Sacramento Writer's Brush at Sac. Poetry Center, 1719 25th St., featuring artwork by Jennifer O’Neill Pickering, Frank Andrick, Lawrence Dinkins, Sue Owens Wright, Jeanine Stevens, Frank Graham, Tim McHargue and Susan Kelly-DeWitt and others in an art show and poetry reading. (The poet/artists will be reading from 6:30-7:30pm.) Free. Art will remain on exhibit through February.


Today's LittleNip: 

You should be attentive today, for waiting until tomorrow is too late.

—Bhaddekaratta Sutra



Second Sunday Christmas Party, 2010
Pictured: Joyce Odam, Katy Brown, Carol Frith, 
Laverne Frith, Betsy Powell, Danyen Powell, Allegra Silberstein